You and your coworkers may have recently come to the decision that you need a new website (Not sure if you need one? Review our “Does my website need a revamp” infographic). Or maybe you’re a new company ready to go public online. In either case, you’re likely researching web firms, asking for references, and gearing up for the Big Project of a New Website.
Before you release the RFP, hire a firm or start sketching out site navigation, it’s important that you ask a few key questions internally to know what you actually need out of a website and a web development firm. If you take the time to answer these questions, you’ll have a more effective and streamlined project, and likely a better relationship with your web development firm. So, to help start the discussion, we’ve gathered some questions to get your leadership team talking and preparing for hiring a company and kicking off a new website.
7 Questions to Ask Internally Before You Hire a Web Development Firm
- What are your products, goals and values? Before you can put up a face for your company online, you have to know who and what your company stands for. Maybe you sell bikes, but perhaps you also promote an active and adventurous outdoor lifestyle? Do you value environmental causes over higher profits? It’s important to know what you sell and what you value, so you can relay this to the web firm who will need to design a site to showcase these features.
- Who is your audience? How are they finding you? Do you want to reach new audiences?
You will never reach an audience unless you know who they are. Why are they buying your products or services? What exactly do they need? And are they finding you online, in the store, from friends or via coupons? And is that effective? Your website needs to meet your audience where they are—so have this clearly defined before you put up your site.
- What are your communication expectations?
Some companies like to hire experts to handle a certain project and leave them to it. Other leaders like regular updates, either by email or in person. Still others want to approve or edit projects every step of the way. And not every web firm is willing to match your preferences. Know how you want to communicate with a web firm and ensure that expectations are set between you and the firm before work begins.
- What impact do you want the website to have on your company?
Your goal for a new website is likely much bigger than just to “increase profits” (although we know that’s always a major one!). Maybe you’re looking to reach new customers in a certain region, switch from print advertising to online campaigns, or to attract a new demographic. These specific goals are also more easily measured (see #5), which can help you hold yourself and any other firm accountable.
- How will that impact be measured?
It’s overly vague—and often immeasurable—to simply say that you want your site to “better convey the company” or “reach more people.” It’s also unwise to set goals without measurements. So take time ahead of the project to outline the exact goals, like “increase inbound visits to website by 30%,” “increase project inquiry contact form completion by 50%,” or “increase online sales by 15%.” These goals will set how the site is designed, managed, promoted, and how well you can measure its success.
- What does success look, sound and feel like?
Success cannot be defined only in dollars. What does a successful web project really feel like? Maybe your company is hoping to feel energized, inspired, connected or focused. Maybe you are seeking to unite the team or rally for a cause. Dig deep to name how success might feel, and then work toward that feeling.
- What are you willing to invest in terms of time, money and resources to get there?
Before meeting with a firm or putting out an RFP, take the time to agree among your team on what you’re willing to spend on your website in terms of time, money, resources—even energy. This budgetary planning can help both you and a prospective firm vet each other to assess a good business fit. Most web firms should be able to recommend a solution that most effectively utilizes your budget. But not being transparent up front can make it a guessing game for both parties to know what to spend, and both the relationship and the website could become more burdensome than expected. On the other hand, a well thought-out budget paired with clear expectations can lead to an effectively planned and executed web project as well as a consultative, strategic business relationship.
Building a new website can be one of the largest and most influential projects your company undertakes. Taking the time to pinpoint your true goals, expectations and definitions of success can help you determine what you truly need to get from the project, which will make it that much easier to find, hire and amicably work with a web development firm.
Once you’ve had the big talks about these seven questions, the team at A-LINE would love to talk with you about building a new site or launching some online marketing initiatives. And even if you’re at the very beginning of the process, we’re happy to help you work through these discussions. Contact us today.